Thursday, October 04, 2012

Remembering Saint Francis

Today, October 4th, is the day that the Catholic Church honors the memory of St. Francis of Assisi. He is my favorite Christian holy man. He lived in the 12th century and was the founder of a religious community that became known as the Franciscans. They still exist in today’s world. My first exploration as a young Catholic boy into the religious life was with the Franciscans. I left my parent’s home in 1965 as a 14 year old boy and I went to Cincinnati to attend a seminary. I had a tough time for a lot of reasons and I left after a year. I finished high school in Louisville. It was the sixties and I soon morphed from a seminarian into a hippie. Around 1970, at the height of my original hippie experience, I felt like God was chasing me. Unable to get away I re-joined the Franciscans and headed to a Franciscan community outside of Detroit, Michigan. I was surprised to discover that some of the Franciscans were basically hippies in brown robes. This time around I stayed with the Franciscans for two years before following another voice that led me to the more austere Trappist monks at the Abbey of Gethsemani. I stayed there for about a year before I began the life I have now. It was during my second sojourn with the Franciscans that I first met my good friend, Fr. Dennis. At one time we lived in the same Franciscan community. That was over 40 years ago. Now we are much older men. He is like a big brother while also being a spiritual mentor for me. I have also recently re-connected with a nun who was my 8th grade teacher. She is one of the people who wrote me a letter of recommendation when I first attended the seminary. When I told her about my son, who will be ordained a priest in the spring of 2013, she remarked that many times when a man like me leaves the seminary or religious life, the vocation manifests itself in a child. I thought that was an interesting thought about my experience then and my son’s experience now. Tomorrow I am taking the day off to spend some time with my friend, Fr. Dennis. I’m sure we will spend some time reminiscing about our shared past as well as our current lives. Life has been quite an adventure for me.

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